Good old Chinese Kitchen on the restaurant strip at Westfield Woden has opened its brand new restaurant and Dumpling House, just 2 doors down. The original restaurant has shut down (ooh new restaurant taking its place?) but the same owners and staff have moved across.
The brand new restaurant looks spectacular and is a great improvement from the old. With a more traditional Chinese look, the restaurant is decorated with Chinese latticework scattered throughout such as the edging on the glass windows, doors and as art work hanging along the walls. I love the bright red ‘lucky’ door that screams out a warm and auspicious welcome.
|The outdoor dining area|
The famous roast ducks still hang by the window and now the chef has the convenience of a small bench with a sink by the front for chopping up all sorts of meats. The BBQ pork and BBQ roast duck are hard to resist and sometimes I order this to take away. You can now peek into the kitchen and watch staff rolling out the dumpling dough and make other yummy items too.
There’s a bit of traffic already at the front counter as people are lining up to pay for their meals and others are trying to get a table. The kitchen is busy with staff steaming and cooking for the restaurant’s first lunch time service. I patiently wait my turn to be seated which gives me a chance to look around.
The back feature wall displays a picture of a woman (and I’ve forgotten to ask who it is).
Red and black are the dominant colours used in the fit out with a mix of tiles, wooden and glass features. Staff wear red and black traditional looking Chinese shirts as uniforms. I can’t help but smile at the cheery traditional Chinese red lanterns hanging in the middle of the restaurant. Makes the place festive and brings back memories of family and happy times. I love the detail of the intricate wooden pieces of art against the wall which also helps break up the black.
The solid wooden tables with matching chairs and stools also have detailed latticework on its sides giving it more character.
The revamped menu is similar to that of the original restaurant with soups, hot pots, noodles and chow meins as well as your regular meat and vegetarian dishes. I couldn’t help envying the massive laksa that a diner at the table next to me was enjoying.
The separate dumpling menu is what I was more interested in.
A pot of tea was ordered first which didn’t take long to arrive. I think tea is about $1.50 per person.
The xiao long bao (Shanghai steamed pork bun) came in a set of 10 ($13.80). I love xiao long bao! I noticed the dumpling skin lacked that lovely translucency and was thicker than most places resulting in less broth inside. No real wow factor for me and I still believe Din Tai Fung’s dumplings are by far the best. Too bad Din Tai Fung are in Sydney.
Soup spoons aren’t readily provided so I grabbed one from another dish.
|Inside the xiao long bao|
The steamed prawn dumplings ($12.80) aren’t freshly made as they were sadly still frozen inside and returned to the kitchen. The waiter was very apologetic about it and came back with steaming hot dumplings. These were mushy inside as they had been oversteamed and the dumpling skin had broken on most dumplings. Not a great run but it was the first day of trading with dumplings on the menu.
Diners have the option of steamed, fried or boiled mixed dumplings ($13.80) at 15 pieces per serve. I chose the fried option as I do enjoy some crispy dumplings. These were only fried on the bottom and came with a mix of the pork and chive, and pork and cabbage dumplings. There was quite a bit of oil on the dumplings too. Not as crispy as I would’ve liked them but these were okay.
To break up the dumpling coma, we ordered the Chinese Kitchen hand made dry noodles with Ja Jiang sauce ($14.80). Each component in the noodle dish is separated for you to mix everything in. Ja Jiang or Zha Jiang sauce is a dark sweet bean sauce usually cooked with pork mince. The peanut sauce was creamy and peanutty making the Ja Jiang sauce extra thick. The noodles themselves were thick (udon noodle like) and cooked perfectly. The crunchy grated cucumber helped freshen up the dish and give some balance but I thought the Ja Jiang sauce was still overpowering. It was a very rich noodle dish that I’m glad was shared. I could not have finished this on my own.
There’s a lot of lighting inside and it soon became busy with Chinese Kitchen’s loyal followers and excited diners trying out the latest eatery to open in Woden. I wonder if outdoor heaters will be provided for those wanting or having no choice but to sit outside.
No expense has been spared in fitting this place out. It must be the owners’ dream restaurant finally coming to reality. The vibe is alive and buzzing with chatter. I really enjoyed sitting inside amidst the hustle and bustle taking in the polished Chinese decor. A nice contrast to all the new modern looking restaurants opening up.
Service is polite with a fast turnaround of dishes. There are a couple of teething issues associated with the introduction of dumplings on the menu (no soup spoons for soup dumplings and serving us slightly frozen dumplings) but this should be ironed out in a couple of weeks. I’m just glad I can now order dumplings in Woden! They’re even on the take away menu.
Chinese Kitchen Dumpling House is located next to Vietnam House and Liquorland outside the Woolies/Coles part of Westfield Woden.
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